PAUL Dearing was a three-time Olympian, a member of the Hockey Australia hall of fame and an icon of Newcastle sport.
A fearless shot-stopper, Dearing played in 69 Tests between 1963 and 1972 and appeared at the Tokyo 1964, Mexico City 1968 and Munich 1972 Olympics, and went on to become a highly respected coach and umpire.
Dearing died at his Eleebana family home on Monday after a long battle with illness. He was 73.
Underlining the esteem in which he was held, a minute’s silence was observed before the Test between the Hockeyroos and China in Sydney on Monday night (which ended in a 3-2 victory to the Australians).
Dearing was a pioneer in an era when goalkeepers were admired for courage as much as their cat-like reflexes.
‘‘When dad played his Olympic hockey, he wore cricket pads, some kickers, a protector, cricket gloves and a baggy green hat,’’ son Steve Dearing said.
‘‘No face guard, no chest pad, nothing like that.’’
From humble beginnings growing up in Carrington and playing for club side Norths, Dearing went on to be the best in the world.
‘‘Paul had this amazing ability to have total control and calmness in what he did,’’ former teammate and long-time friend Bob Stuart said. ‘‘The ball would whistle past my ears. I’d look around and see it headed straight for Paul’s forehead. Paul would put his hand up, drop it still and half-volley the ball to halfway. He was an outstanding player.’’
Dearing was a member of the first Australian hockey team to win an Olympic medal, when they took bronze at Tokyo.
Four years later they were runners-up after a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Pakistan in the final.
In Munich, Australia finished fifth but Dearing was named as goalkeeper in the World XI.
‘‘Being named in the World side was an amazing honour,’’ Steve said. ‘‘But Dad always said his career highlight was the opening ceremony at the 1964 Olympics.
‘‘Here was a kid from Carrington at the Olympics.’’
After retiring, Dearing continued to serve as a coach and umpire and was inducted into Hockey Australia’s Hall of Fame in 2008.
Other son Stewart, a keeper like their father, also became a regular in the Australian team (1990-94) and is now an international umpire.
‘‘We didn’t have much choice what sport we were going to play,’’ Steve said. ‘‘Dad met Mum at a hockey field and we all played.
‘‘One of the greatest experiences I had was taking his silver medal from the Munich Olympics for show and tell at Carrington Primary. Dad’s Olympic medals are on display in the Newcastle museum.’’
Dearing is survived by wife Maureen and children Steve, Stewart and Sonya.
A service will be held on Friday at James Murray funeral home at Broadmeadow.